Appalachian Square Dance Music

"Hoedown" is the traditional term used to identify a dance as being freestyle in performance. It also identifies the music. The sound of Southern Appalachian dance music has a four beat rhythm pattern.


It is continuous in nature and not influenced by the phrase and section changes of the music. It does not start over every 64 beats like 4/4 music patterns do. 


Hoedown music has a 2/4 rhythm pattern and has no overriding melody and it should be played within the range of 110 to 160 beats per minute. 


The Hoedown Caller chants the calls and does not carry the melody. Hoedown literally means "freedom".

Callers and Dancers are not locked into having figures (or patterns) executed within a given number of beats. The Caller determines the flow or speed of the figures and caution should be taken not to anticipate the next figure the Caller will say. 


Each dancer dances to the music independent of pre-arranged footwork choreography. 


Traditional Callers and dancers universally want a strong easily recognisable downbeat in the music that can be heard over the sound of clogging feet. 


The most desirable music for Appalachian clogging and Howdowning is traditional music played by traditional instruments. 


Musicians should learn to accommodate the tempo, needs and desires of traditional dancers and Callers. It is the blending of talents and abilities by musicians, Callers & dancers that places live music at the top of any wish list for traditional dances. 


Note: Much recorded music is labelled as 'Hoedown', but is 4/4 time. When 4/4 music must be used for a hoedown it should have very little emphasis on section or phrasing. 


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